Thursday, June 12, 2014

Iraq Civil War

Who would have predicted a civil war in Iraq after the fall of the brutal Hussein dictatorship? Try just about anyone with an ounce of common sense.

Iraq was never a nation-state, it was an artificial construction by colonial British after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. In the north there are ethnic Kurds (about 18% of the population). In the south and east are Arab Shi'ites (about 42%). In the west and middle are Arab Sunnis (about 38%).

Each have their own militias; the Kurds have the Peshmerga, the Sunnis have the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Shi'ites have the regular Iraqi army. An awkward peace was possible as long as the United States maintained a colonial occupation of the country but that would have required having a significant army stationed in Iraq for-fucking-ever. Once the US left, the teapot was bound to erupt eventually.

There are few alternatives. The US could reinvade and return the country to status quo 2007. Or, one of the two Arab factions could impose a vicious dictatorship like the Sunni Ba'ath dictatorship of Saddam and thus rule with an iron fist over the others. Or, and this is the best option, partition the country between its three main factions. The problem with the partition option is oil rich Mosul that all sides want to control.

Most likely in the short term, the central government in Baghdad will contract with the Kurdish Peshmerga to open a second front on the ISIS to relieve the military pressure on the capital while they petition both the United States and Iran to intervene. It's unlikely the US will want to engage in Iraq War III so I expect that Iran will send in a fighting force to install some sort of partition.

1 comment:

Katy Anders said...

Frankly, it sounds as though there could be a more permanent solution on the horizon than our once-a-decade invasions, trying to keep the current borders, can provide.